Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultramarathon Q&A

With just five days left to go till Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultramarathon I have moved from focusing on training and taper to logistics of the big day.  The main sources of information can be found at:

These didn't answer all my questions though so I contacted David Knox, one of the race organizers, and posed my remaining questions and David kindly answered them and was OK with posting the results on my blog so that others can benefit too.  David's answer below in bold.
Q1: Best places to park for race day?

A: The best place to park are the free car parks next to the town centre.
As ultra runners will be arriving a couple of hours before everyone
else there will be plenty room.

Q2: Will a Drop bag facility be available for dropping off supplies?

A: After several requests for drop bags, we will operate a service out to the Rhymer's Stone Water Station. Just see us during registration.

Q3: Are their suitable places for meeting up with supporters, or for
spectating on route? 

A: We posted a When and Where on our Facebook page. The villages of Bowden and Newtown provide a good opportunity to see the runners - although there are lots of other places.

Q4: Has the whole route been run before? If so what time was it run in
and by whom? 

A: We have only run the route in two sections as part of our own training for other races. We feel that if the course dries out it can be run in just over six hours by the the best runners, although the recent downpours have created a lot of mud and it will likely add up to half an hour onto the time.

Q5: From the entry list do you have any male and female favourites to
be in the top three? How fast do you think the winning male and female runners will do the course? 

A: We only know about 20 or so of the runners so it is difficult to say who the favourites are. The estimated times which have come in with the entries range from under six hours to bang on the ten.

Q6: I have three daughters, aged 8, 10 and 13.  Any recommendations for
entertaining children in Jedburgh whilst the race is under way. 

A: You can lock your kids up in the town's jail, which is quite good fun.
It's a Victorian prison set inside an old castle and they usually have a bit of fun on for children. There's also a deer park just outside the town.

Q7: I'm planning to put together some split times for race day, and
would appreciate a reality check from  one more knowledgeable of the route. Follows is my current steps towards estimating splits.

Looking at the elevation trace and route map online I've eyeballed
a rough division of the route into three parts:
  1. 14 miles, ~800ft ascent/descent from Jedburgh to the junction where the Eildons loop starts
  2. 10 miles, ~1600ft ascent/descent around the Eildons loop
  3. 14 miles, ~800ft ascent/descent from the Elidons loop start back to Jedburgh
For myself I'm guessing that these times for each of these part will broadly similar, and around 2hrs to 2hrs 30mins.  For point of reference I completed the Highland Fling in 10:46 this year.   I'm currently thinking that an average pace of 9 min/mile should possible for the first third, 13 min/mile for Eildons loop, and 10 min/mile on return leg.

If you were doing the route yourself what would estimate as paces for these sections? 

A: Predicting split times is difficult with the amount of mud on some sections - normally fast parts of the course are ankle deep in the stuff just now. I think nine minute mile pace is  achievable for the first 15/16 miles where it will then slow down in the mile or so before the Eildons. On a good day with fresh legs we can get over the three Eildons in around half an hour - with tired legs a good ten or 15 minutes more. The next four miles is relatively quick down through Bowden and Newtown - and it's back to the riverside section which can be run at nine to ten minute miles depending on the legs. I would be happy, myself, with ten or eleven minute miles from Bowden back to Jedburgh. Going by your Highland Fling time - you are a couple of hours quicker than me - so you could maybe shave a wee bit off my suggestions.

Many thanks to David for answering these questions and allowing them to be published, and also thanks to David and the rest of the Jedburgh team organizing and marshaling the festival.


  1. Great questions and answers. Thanks for posting.

    I reckon anything around 7hrs will be a really good effort. A lot may depend on just how muddy it is.

    The forecasts looks good. Very cold but dry.

    See you Sunday.

    1. Mud may well be a significant factor this year, after the rain through last week it's really muddy on smaller forest trails around Callander.

      On Sunday I went out for a hilly long run up the Callander Crags and was ankle deep in mud a number of times and slipped several times on the muddy sections of the descents. Normally I would tip toe around muddy sections and save having to wash my shoes, but having read your recce report decided to suck it up and practice just plowing through the the goo. It's fun once you abandon your worry about running with muddy wet shoes and feet ;-)

      I'm curious about your own pace predications for the route. For the three sections I outlined above what are do you think would be reasonable?

  2. Robert,
    Good luck. It sounds like you will need a gung ho attitude towards getting your shoes muddy, but a somewhat more conservative approach towards setting your pace.

  3. Good luck, Robert, enjoy the day. I particularly like the option of locking the kids away for a day - if only I could do this on a regular basis ...

    Have a good one!